Peter Laviolette ended Rangers practice Tuesday with a shootout competition. Igor Shesterkin out-battled Jonathan Quick, who allowed two goals. Shesterkin allowed only one goal, but it came off the stick of an unexpected player. Defenseman Braden Schneider zoomed toward the net and beat the former Vezina Trophy winner with a bar-down shot.
“That was something, wasn’t it?” Laviolette said afterward. “Dancing and moving and shaking and baking and (then) just come in and rip it. Maybe there’s something to his method.”
When captain Jacob Trouba moved out of Schneider’s way in the dressing room, he quipped that he was leaving him room to bask in his shootout win. Shesterkin overheard and offered a correction.
“Not a winner,” he said, joking that he let Schneider’s shot by “just for confidence.”
#NYR finished with shootout practice and there was only one guy who beat Igor…
Who had Braden Schneider on their bingo card? pic.twitter.com/OIHpdfNiEI
— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) February 6, 2024
Coming off an overtime win against Colorado, vibes were high at New York’s skate, as evidenced by the game and subsequent joking. The team has another tough test Wednesday with the Lightning coming to town. And though Shesterkin won the shootout competition, Quick could be in line to make his third-consecutive start. Laviolette didn’t say who would start, but Quick left the ice first Tuesday. That doesn’t guarantee he’ll start, but it’s a potential indication.
“Oftentimes we’ve stuck to a plan, and there are times we have changed it as well,” Laviolette said about his goalie rotation.
That will be worth monitoring going into the Tampa Bay matchup.
Jacob Trouba set to return
Trouba missed the past two games after the Department of Player Safety suspended him for elbowing Vegas’s Pavel Dorofeyev, who has not played since the play on Jan. 26. After a faceoff, Trouba drove his elbow into Dorofeyev’s head while turned away from the Golden Knights’ forward.
“Trouba is not attempting to make a play on the puck, nor is this incidental contact that occurs as part of a natural motion while making a hockey play,” the Department of Player Safety said in its explanation video. “Trouba needlessly snaps his elbow into the head of Dorofeyev with sufficient force to cause an injury.”
The Rangers captain disagreed with the decision.
“The puck came to the side and then went to the corner, and I was kind of looking to the corner,” he said Tuesday. “I didn’t know where (Dorofeyev) was, considering he was behind me, but they saw it differently, I guess.”
Trouba hadn’t been suspended since 2017, but he’s had other controversial plays since then. Earlier this season, he whacked Boston’s Trent Frederic in the head with his stick. He acknowledged afterward that the play looked bad on replay and said it “can’t happen.” The defenseman paid a $5,000 fine but was not suspended.
Mika Zibanejad excited for potential Olympic chance
Now that NHL players will be attending the 2026 Olympics, Mika Zibanejad (Sweden) and Adam Fox (U.S.) seem like the surest bets to attend among Rangers players. Artemi Panarin and Igor Shesterkin would likely both be on their national team, too, but it’s unclear if Russia will be allowed to attend the Games. Others, including Trouba and Kaapo Kakko, could earn spots for their countries.
Zibanejad called representing Sweden at the Olympics a dream. He was among the first three players named to the Team Sweden roster ahead of the 2022 Olympics, but NHLers ended up not attending the tournament because of COVID-19 complications.
Zibanejad has won a world championship gold but still has not competed at an Olympics, so he’s excited that could potentially change in 2026.
“(In) hockey you don’t get the World Cup like soccer when they have all their best because they play every fourth year,” he said. “This is our opportunity to do so and get all the best players and get to advertise hockey.”
Zibanejad remembers the 2006 Olympic Final between Sweden and Finland. That game featured a clutch Henrik Lundqvist save with 30 seconds left, securing a Swedish victory. Zibanejad’s mom is Finnish, so he laughed that his “family was divided.”
“It was a win-win for me,” he said.
Nick Bonino update
The Rangers placed center Nick Bonino on unconditional waivers for the purpose of contract termination. He had previously cleared waivers, and the Rangers had assigned him to AHL Hartford but gave him the All-Star break to think over his situation. He decided he didn’t want to report to the AHL and asked the Rangers to terminate his contract. The team, which has maintained a lot of respect for Bonino, honored that request.
(Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)